Normally, our Wine Group's Wine Night focuses on brown bagging a specific designated wine type, with definite parameters, and not unveiling what we are drinking until all wines have been adequately sipped, savored, discussed, rated and scored. However, Tonight...Wine Night was designated as: "Bring ANY good bottle of wine" night. No restrictions! No brown bagging, no analysis, no rating, no competition. Just an evening savoring a variety of eclectic and unusual wines to be enjoyed and sampled by all.
And if eclectic was the requirement for tonight's wines....they were just that. This evening melded the three ingredients for a successful gathering: Wine....Food....Friends....all blending well together. With wines from around the world, and around the state.
Let's get started:
As each guest arrived, so did the appetizers----which would have been enough for dinner itself! Starting casually with appetizers, our guests were introduced to something new, Westberg Cellars Willow White. Don Burns (Westside of Paso Robles) is a small, handcraft winemaker, turning out some wonderful wines. Willow White is the color of golden hay, aromatic and crisp. Citrus, white peach, nectarine and melon. It is a creative blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. A perfect start to the evening....made to sip on its own, or with our assorted appetizers and cheese. A perfect start to what will follow.
Now easing into "the mood," dinner is served! Bring a a good bottle of wine night is also "make your own taco night!"
Wine Night usually presents us with a special surprise, something from the depths of Paul's substantial cellar. Tonight is no exception: A 1997 Brunello di Montalcino Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona. This 100% Sangiovese was soft and silky....very nice subtle tones of red fruit and chocolate with some subtle spiciness. It is always such a pleasure being treated to a rare and old wine that Paul pulls from his vaired collection. Having the opportunity of sharing a fine bottle of wine that normally none of us would ever have the chance of tasting or purchasing adds a wonderful intangible to the evening.
Ontogeny comes from the Greek word "ontos", and translated means: "The origin and development of an organism from conception to adulthood." And that is exactly what Russel Bevan of Bevan Cellars does with this incredible Bordeaux blend. The 2009 Ontogeny, a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot, has quickly evolved from infancy in the bottle to a full fledged adult. It is light, supple, and sexy with teasing aromas and flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry, floral and chocolaty on the edges.A tapestry of flavors. If you haven't had Ontogeny, you should get a bottle, and you may experience a true wine epiphany.
Cousin Jacqueline, our evenings invited guest, pours a 2005 Darioush Cabernet Franc. Delicious! Full bodied, with an enticing nose. A hint of pepper and raspberry.....this Cabernet Franc, usually used in blending, stood well on it's own. Normally expecting this to be intense, ageing has mellowed out the juice, As Goldilocks would have said: NOT too light, NOT too strong...but JUST RIGHT!
As always, there is a Doctor in the house, and good Dr. Mike contributed a 2007 Barossa Valley Bella's Garden Two Hands Shiraz. It's been awhile since Dr. Mike has shared one of his Australian gems with us. An integration of subtle cherry and red fruits...not too spicy, with some subtle minerality----good by itself, good with food and displaying the character of the Australia terroir where this is grown. Smooth with a lingering finish....yummy Mike? Being a Shiraz (Syrah) it was fun to drink this side by side with the other contribution of the evening, also a Syrah:
Epoch's 2009 Block B Syrah. Paso Robles of course HAD to be represented, and Dana and Matt did not disappoint: BIG, BOLD, IN YOUR FACE...the Epoch 2009 Block B Syrah is simply described as 4th of July and New Year's Eve fireworks going off in your mouth. big and chewy, a cacophony of rich, decadent flavors, one after the other. Nothing subtle here like with the Two Hands. You will either love this Syrah....or it's just not your style!
Chocolate and pumpkin personal cheesecakes, and chocolate cookie/pumpkin filled TARANTULAS! winking at you! Made from scratch by Cousin Jacqueline.....baker extraordinaire. Of course, any great dessert must be accompanies by a dessert wine, in this case a 2009 Dunham Cellars late Harvest Riesling. Having the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Eric Dunham up in Walla Walla, Washington earlier this summer...this was the perfect pairing with our dessert. Pear and apricot, full and pleasing to the senses...this was the perfect ending to a perfectly wonderful evening of eclectic, unusual wines (and food)!
As usual, everyone went home happy and well sated. Looking forward to the next meeting of our wine group, when we will be back in sync, with the next host determining a specific wine or type, where the competition to bring the #1 rated bottle of the evening will continue. Of course, the bottom line seems to be, no matter which wine is voted #1 for the evening...they are all #1!
~ Clifton Fadiman